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Team Georgia playing the right way

Tournaments : : Story
Nick Kappel        
Published: Sunday, July 01, 2012

MARIETTA, Ga. — In a tournament loaded with talented teams, Team Georgia 17u is a diamond in the rough. Through four games at the PG/WWBA 18u National Championship, they sit atop the Pool C standings with a perfect 4-0 record, having outscored their opponents 43-3.

It’s been a combination of good pitching and really good team defense,” Team Georgia Coach, Chris McRaney, said. “When we have gotten in trouble, either the defense has made a big play or the pitcher has gotten a big strikeout or ground ball. And it’s been this way all year. We’ve allowed four runs or less in 40 of our last 41 games.”

Team Georgia’s starting pitching has been lights-out in this tournament specifically, allowing just one earned run on nine hits and two walks in 19 innings, striking out 20. Right-handed pitchers Logan Elliott (2013, Dunwoody HS, Ga.), Matthew Gorst (2013, Johns Creek HS, Ga.) and Dustin Beggs (2012, Centennial HS, Ga.) have contributed to the team’s starting pitching success.

Left handed pitcher Mitch Stallings (2014, The Lovett School, Ga.) pitched Sunday, allowing just one hit while striking out five in as many innings. He showed good command and fired 70 percent of his pitches for strikes.

I felt good when I started stretching and I just carried it out onto the mound,” Stallings said after the game. “My fastball felt really good and I located it well. My curveball started a little rough but came around throughout the game.”

Coach McRaney was pleased with Stallings’ performance as well, but wants others to know that he’s worked very hard to achieve this success.

To say that Mitch has improved would be a serious understatement,” he said. “Being a lefty obviously gives him an advantage. But if you look at his frame and the projectability down the road, he’s going to be really special. And he’s a competitor in every sense of the word. He’s a fine young man and he’s going to have a lot of options down the road.”

Andrew Harrington (2013, Central Hardin HS, Ky.) will try to extend Team Georgia’s fantastic pitching streak on Monday against the Cape Coral Cannons at the East Cobb Complex.

I’m just trying to get myself mentally prepared because I’ve heard they are a pretty good team,” Harrington said of the Cannons. “Hopefully my fastball is on, my curveball is working well and I’ll mix in a few change-ups, too.”

Harrington made his Perfect Game tournament debut earlier this spring at the PG 17/18u East Cobb Invitational and also pitched in the PG National Showcase in June.

That was awesome playing in the Metrodome,” Harrington said. “I got to match up against some of the best players in the nation from my class. I performed pretty well too, so I was pleased with it.”

Despite limited action against high-level competition, Harrington has done nothing but impress.

He’s been really good this summer and he’s learning,” Coach McRaney said. He progressively gets stronger as the game goes. I’d be surprised if we see anything but his best tomorrow.”

Harrington is a Louisville commit, even though he has a close connection to one of their most competitive rivals.

My whole family went to Kentucky and we’re all huge Kentucky fans, but I’m going to Louisville,” Harrington said. “Coach (Dan) McDonald is great. The first time I walked into his office I felt like that is the place I need to be.”

While Team Georgia’s pitching has been outstanding, they have some good hitters, too. They lit up the scoreboard with 21 runs Saturday, thanks in large part to Brock Maxwell (2013, Lambert HS, Ga.), who hit a double and a grand slam from the left side of the plate.

Through four games, Maxwell is 6-for-11 with three doubles, a home run and seven RBI. He attributes his success at the PG/ WWBA 17u National Championship to a wait-for-your-pitch approach, something his coaches recently instilled in him. He’s also hitting the ball to the opposite field, something he didn’t do in the past.

Maxwell has offers to play at Georgia Tech, Auburn, Florida State and Oregon. While he’s not yet ready to make a decision on his future, his experience at Perfect Game events has helped prepare him for the next level of competition.

The Perfect Game events have helped a lot,” Maxwell said. “Last year was my first time seeing anything above 85 mph, and now I’m seeing above 90 mph here sometimes. So it’s helped me a lot and hopefully it’ll prepare me for college.

While Team Georgia might have up to a dozen future Division-I players, Coach McRaney is focused on teaching them the right way to play.

This is a great game,” he said. I’m teaching them if they play hard and with class, great things will happen to them.”

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